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The Surprising Effects of Stress

We all know that stress can make us feel tired, cause lots of sleepless nights, bring on headaches and make it generally difficult for us to get through the day unscathed, but there is much more to stress than meets the eye. It really is an all-pervasive illness that can affect so many areas of our lives that we would not have even thought of!

If you’re experiencing any of these health issues, it might be worth asking yourself if you’re dealing with stress:

Skin Issues

Has your skin suddenly started to itch? Have you developed a rash and you just don’t know why? It could be that you are actually suffering from stress! Many experts believe that stress can have a detrimental effect on the immune system, causing histamine to be released into the bloodstream. This, in turn, mimics the effects of allergies such as hives, rashes and itches. If you already suffer from skin problems, it can even make them worse! So, maybe what your rash really needs is a little more meditation rather than that ointment!

Acne

Another surprising skin-related effect of stress is the development of acne. Stress can cause inflammation in the body, and when the body is inflamed, it is possible for acne to occur. If you’re an adult with acne despite having your hormones under control and an excellent skin care routine, could it be stress that’s causing you to breakout like you’re 17 again?

Nightmares

It’s perhaps not all that surprising that when you’re stressed the amount of strange dreams and nightmares you experience is likely to increase, After all, the brain tries to process our thoughts and feelings as we dream, so if our thoughts are difficult, our dreams probably will be too. Unfortunately, there isn’t really much we can do about stress-induced nightmares, apart from getting un-stressed of course! However, there are some people who think that reducing alcohol and caffeine, especially before bedtime, can help.

Terrible Period Pains

If you’ve noticed that your period pains are even more painful than usual, and you’re also pretty stressed out, it’s probably safe to assume that the two are related. Researchers from Harvard University found that women who are stressed are more than twice as likely to have bad period pains than those who are more relaxed. If you are currently suffering from cramps,  do some light exercise and give meditation a try. Both will help to soothe the pain and minimize your stress.

Stomach Problems

A study conducted on 1,953 women and men discovered that participants with the most stress were over three times as likely to have stomach pains as their laid-back peers. Researchers don’t yet fully understand why this would be the case, but as we know stress can release hormones like cortisol which weaken the immune system, it makes sense that the very sensitive stomach would be affected.

Constant Colds

If you tend to get cold after cold after flu, you might not just be unlucky – you might be stressed. Again, because the immune system is compromised and the body more prone to inflammation when we are stressed, it’s much easier for us to contract viruses than it is the average person who has little stress in their life.

Tooth Pain

If you’ve noticed a niggling tooth pain and now you’re worried that you’re going to need to visit the dentist and possibly have a tooth extracted, don’t panic – it could just be another surprising effect of stress. You see, when you are stressed, you’re more likely to consciously or unconsciously grind your teeth, and this can cause pain. Of course, grinding your teeth for prolonged periods can damage them, so it’s in your interests to de-stress in any way you can and perhaps wear a night guard until the problem resolves itself. This will minimize any issues you experience.

Hair Loss

There are many causes of hair loss from male pattern baldness, which can sometimes be treated with medication for hair loss, to chemotherapy, which is vital to the survival of many cancer patients, but did you know that hair loss can also be caused by stress? Stress can make the white blood cells attack the body’s hair follicles preventing growth and often causing hair to come out when it is brushed or washed. The good news is, once you start to relax more, it will usually grow back!

Extreme Fatigue

If you’re feeling tired all the time, it could be that the stress hormones that cause a rush of adrenaline followed by a huge crash are responsible, along with the fact that when you’re stressed you tend to spend a lot of time laying awake at night ruminating over every little thing when you should actually be sleeping.

Unhealthy Cravings

Been putting on weight lately? Finding it difficult to stop yourself from eating chocolate, ice cream and candy? It might not be a problem with your willpower but a problem with your stress levels! The more of the hormone cortisol – which is released when the body is stressed – you have in your system, the more likely you are to crave sugar and fat, which is bad because the more of this junk you eat, the more stress your body is put under, and the more cortisol is released. It can be a vicious circle that’s hard to get out of; then there’s the stress and depression of being overweight which makes everything worse! Best to nip it in the bud right now and focus on relaxation!

Memory Loss

Stress doesn’t cause long-term memory loss, as far as we know anyway, but if you’ve noticed that you’re always forgetting where you’ve out your car keys of late, or you frequently find yourself entering a room with no idea what you went in there for, it could be the brain-shrinking effects of chronic stress coming into play. That might sound scary, but once you’re back on an even keel, your brain will get back to normal too.

Increased Confusion

In a similar vein, stress could cause you to become more confused in daily life too. You see, stress can kill off brain cells when it becomes a serious problem, and it can affect your focus levels for a while. So, if you’re stressed, you probably aren’t stupid – you’re literally just overwhelmingly stressed out.

Infertility

If you believe you may be infertile, it’s best to get yourself checked out by a specialist so you can be sure of the problem, but if you have a lot of stress in your life, there is a good chance that it is that which is causing the problem. You see, stress can alter the body’s natural neurochemical makeup which affects a number of things including egg production, sperm count and the uterus (which it can cause to spasm). That’s why couples who are trying for a baby are always told to relax more!

Eye Twitching

Suddenly started twitching? Annoying isn’t it? If you want to get rid of it as quickly as possible, ask yourself if you’re stressed and if you spend too much time at work staring at a computer screen, and if you come to the conclusion that you are, start changing your life so that you can relax and live more calmly. You’ll soon notice that twitch has vanished from your life.

The bottom line: Stress can be a serious illness, not just for your mind, but almost every part of your body too. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms of stress, exercise, meditate, spend time on your favorite hobbies, breathe deep and get to the root of your problems. When you do, chances are your health issues will be much improved!